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March 21, 2010
By JOHNNY BUCK - Bulletin Sports Editor

A brand new complex, a beautiful spring day and some live college soccer - it turned out to be a recipe for success.

The Smith River College Showcase featured six men's college soccer teams on Saturday at the Smith River Sports Complex, drawing roughly 1,500 total spectators, according to Dennis Toney, SRSC executive director.

"The coaches were really very positive about it," said Toney. "They all committed to come back again next year. So our hope would be we'd maybe expand it to eight to 10 teams, add more games, do a night session next year around a high school event. So that would be our way to do it I think.."

College teams competing in the event were UNC-Greensboro, Radford, Virginia Tech, High Point, Longwood and Averett. Since college soccer is played in the fall, these games counted as spring scrimmages.

Each team played twice on Saturday, meaning coaches had plenty of opportunities to get younger, less experienced team members on the field.

"That's a big emphasis, to get those guys playing time and experience. And you know, with young kids it takes time.," said Mike Brizendine, Virginia Tech's head coach. "They've got to adjust and get used to the speed of play. So we've got a little ways to go. Again, I'm happy with some things, but some things are going to have to get better."

Virginia Tech lost both of its games by the same 1-0 score. The first defeat came to High Point, while the last came to Radford.

Radford forward Anthony Payne volleyed in the game winner against Virginia Tech on a long James Leith assist in the first half.

"It's always good to beat Tech, you know?" he said afterward. "The team right next door you don't really like but you respect. It's always good to beat your neighbors."

Radford lost to UNC-G 1-0 in an early game, and Longwood beat Averett 3-0.

Scores for the High Point/Longwood and UNC-G/Averett games were not available late Saturday night.

In addition to another men's showcase next year on the same weekend, Toney said he'd like to add a women's event. He said that showcase might be played on the Saturday of Martinsville Speedway's race weekend.

If the reaction of men's coaches is any indication, Toney shouldn't have trouble finding women's teams to fill the bill.

"It's wonderful. I'll tell ya, all of us are like, ‘Man, we would love to have a place like this in Blacksburg,'" said Brizendine. "It is really something. ... It was great, and I hope that we can get back down here next year."